2017 Linda Howard Award of Excellence


Polish up those unpublished /non-contracted manuscripts and get ready to enter…
Southern Magic’s 2017 Linda Howard Award of Excellence writing contest!


The Linda Howard Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of best-selling author Linda Howard to award excellence in unpublished romance fiction and their authors. The contest is judged by trained, PRO and published authors. Finalists are judged by top editors and agents looking to contract romance fiction authors.

All you need is the first 5,000 words of your unpublished, non-contracted ROMANCE manuscript (any sub-genre). It will be read and scored by three trained judges.
Finalists (three highest scoring entries of each category) will be judged by some of the industry’s top agents and acquiring editors.

Open: NOW!!!!!! Deadline: May 31, 2017

Contemporary Romance: Manuscripts that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship. Word count: 70,000-110,000 words
Final Judge – Michelle Grajkowski, agent, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Historical Romance: Romance novels set in any historical time period prior to 1950. Word count: 40,000 to 110,000 words
Final Judge – Barbara Rosenberg, agent, The Rosenberg Group

*Inspirational Romance:* Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story. Word count: 40,000 to 110,000 words
Final Judge – Elizabeth Mazer, editor, Harlequin

*LGBTQ Romance:* Romance novels in which a member(s) of the LGBTQ community is central to and an integral part of the plot. Word count: 50,000-100,000
Final Judge- Rachel Haimowitz, editor, Riptide Publishing

Paranormal/Futuristic/Fantasy Romance: Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot. Word count: 70,000 to 110,000 words
Final Judge – Victoria Lea, agent, Aponte Literary Agency

*Romantic Suspense:* Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. Word count: 70,000-100,000 words
Final Judge- Cheryl Yeko, editor, Soul Mate Publishing

Romantic Sensual and Sizzling: Romance-based novels that include a high (often explicit) element of sexual tension or sexual play.These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres, such as paranormal, historical, etc. Word count: 40,000 to 110,000 words
Final Judge- Ric Savage, editor & CEO, Black Velvet Seductions Publishing

The Write Magic: All Southern Magic members who either final in their category or earn a score of 90 or higher will be automatically entered into The Write Magic category final round.
Final Judge- Patricia Nelson, agent, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Young Adult/ *New Adult* Romance: Manuscripts in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot. Word count: 50,000-110,000 words
Final Judge – Kristy Hunter, agent, The Knight Agency

Fee: $25 USD for first manuscript
$20 each additional entry

For more information go to: http://southernmagic.org/lindahowardcontest.html

To enter, go to: https://www.rwa.org/e/in/m=1&req=Edit&eid=643

For questions, comments, or concerns, please contact the Linda Howard Contest Coordinator at lhcontest@southernmagic.org

Good Luck!


A Thank You Letter

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting together with family and sharing a meal without the stress of gift giving.  Not to mention, pumpkin pie! Yum!

This year I have a lot to be thankful for besides my family and friends. This is the year my dream came true. I published my first book, Saving Evangeline. And it ended up on the shelf at my local Barnes and Noble, The Summit in Birmingham, AL.11143216_1638247409749835_8072242315156521528_n

I’m thankful to Victoria Lea of the Aponte Literary Agency for being there with me on this roller coaster ride. She’s held my hand and fought for me when needed. I’m thankful to Omnific Publishing for taking a chance on an unknown author.

I’m  lucky to have Jill Odom as a critique partner. She knows when to push, what to correct, and how to take my dark humor. And she doesn’t spank me too hard when I overuse prepositional phrases.

I’m fortunate to belong to amazing RWA chapters (Southern Magic, Heart of Dixie and Georgia Romance Writers.) I learn something from every conference and meeting I attend. True friendships have been formed through these organizations. They provide more than continuing education, and I urge all aspiring romance writers to join.

Most of all I’m grateful to my family and friends for their love and support. They’ve seen (and endured) the black moments of despair and cheered the successes. The devoted hubby never complains about the time I spend at the computer. He takes care of me and always has. My daughter is not only my pride and joy, she’s my number one fan girl and cheerleader. I’m a lucky mom.

I am truly blessed by the friendships I’ve made through social media. Too many authors and bloggers to name have guided me though this crazy, sometimes overwhelming journey. Words will never be adequate to express my gratitude to them.

Last, but by no means least, my readers…I am still amazed by the outpouring of love and support you have shown me. Thank you for taking a chance on my story and for all the reviews. You humble me. You’ll never know how many times you’ve picked me up when I was low. Especially my Cain Raisers. You are quite simply the best street team ever. I love all of you.



My Dream Came True

FullSizeRenderIn my author’s life, I’ve had a lot of momentous occasions that were a reason to celebrate. The first being rejected on a manuscript I submitted. Why was that momentous? In RWA (Romance Writers of America) it means you’re “legit.” You did it, you completed a book and took the risk of submitting it to either an agent or publishers. With that first rejection, I was able to go PRO, which is a huge honor.

The next celebration occurred when a publisher listened to my pitch at the Romantic Times 2013 Convention and asked me to send the full manuscript. That led to “the call,”  a contract for  Saving Evangeline. In between the signing and publication were other notable milestones: surviving edits, the cover reveal, first reviews showing up on social media.

On the day of publication, despite having to be up at three in the morning for my other job, I stayed up until midnight to hit purchase. I sat there, in the dark, staring at my book on my e-reader, so proud I wanted to wake the world and show them. (Hubby wasn’t so lucky, he did get awakened)

But nothing compared to the surreal moment when I walked into Barnes & Noble and found my book on the shelf. And it wasn’t tucked away with just the spine showing. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. It was that same feeling of awe. I’m sure the folks manning the security cameras had a good laugh at my awkward jump and dance for joy. I admit, my hands shook when I took it down and looked at it, careful not to crack the spine. bninstagram

This is the culmination of my dreams. And next week, I’ll be at this very Barnes & Noble, doing a book signing. If you’re in the area stop by, I’d love to meet you. We can talk about books and dreams. And I’ll have chocolate…

Website: www.nanceecain.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancee-Cain/384348755001647

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Nancee_Cain

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Nancee_Cain

You can watch the book trailer here: https://studio.stupeflix.com/v/cJDX4GMGQjQc/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bhFwvD

The party is over and yet it’s just begun…


I’m at my computer with a purring cat in my lap and a cup of coffee, enjoying the peace and quiet. The party is over. Saving Evangeline has celebrated her 2 month book “birthday.” In my musings with my husband (who still doesn’t quite understand the publishing industry) I likened it to a “coming out party.” Who hasn’t read a regency novel where the debutante is released into society? I’m the doting “parent” praying for my “baby’s success. Saving Evangeline was well-received and has had many successful “dates” with blogs and blog takeovers. (They are crazy busy but loads of fun.)

But then the excitement starts to die down. Where, as an author, do I go from here? Rankings drops off, sales drop off… other books become the center of attention. As an author, I can handle it many ways. I can get depressed and lament the fact I’m not a NY Times Bestselling author. I can whine. (I admit I’ve done that, I’ve noticed during those times the Devoted Hubby isn’t wearing his hear aid, smart man!) Or I can reflect on what I’ve accomplished and learned, enjoy my modicum of success and get busy writing.

I’m choosing the last option. Yes, launching a book is expensive and time consuming. Yes, it’s a frustrating roller coaster of emotions. Sure, I’ve cried and beat my fist on the desk over things I have no control over. But the rewards far outweigh any of the heartache. Why? Because I have gained something much more valuable. New friends. Other authors, bloggers and more importantly, readers. I’m still amazed when a reader reaches out to me and tells me how much they loved my book. I almost do the *look over the shoulder* thing and whisper, “You’re talking to ME?” I have a street team of core friends/readers who bolster me up when I’m down. We don’t just talk about my book. That would be boring. We discuss other books. We post silly pictures, jokes and eye candy. Lots of eye candy. And we’re there for each other. We celebrate birthdays and mourn losses and worry about illnesses. I love this core group and can’t thank them enough for their support. They mean the world to me. While the initial “party” is over… the friendships formed will last a lifetime. I hope to meet everyone in person some day.

It’s the morning after. I raise my coffee cup and salute the Cain Raisers. You all are, quite simply, the best. Book friends are indeed best friends.



If anyone is interested in joining us, you can find us here: CAIN RAISERS